May 20, 2010
Trade Paperback/438 pages
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". . . a riveting tale full of touching moments and gritty details.
A fascinating family history that beautifully and poignantly illuminates the past.
Giovanna and Nunzio are from a small town on the island of Scylla, named for the beautiful sea nymph turned monster out of mythology, but their dreams take them beyond the small confines of their town and cast them on the shores of New York where they hope to build a new and prosperous life. Nunzio arrives first and sends for Giovanna. When she finally follows, Giovanna arrives to find not happiness and hard work, but grief. Nunzio died in an accident on a badly managed construction site in Brooklyn.
Urged into an arranged marriage, Giovanna makes the best of the situation, working as a midwife learning medical practices as she practices her holistic trade and beginning the first steps down a road that will lead to the kidnap of her daughter and war with the Black Hand.
What starts with a young woman asking questions of her grandmother about her life in the waning years of the nineteenth century slips into the memories of the past where Laura Fabiano weaves the tale of Giovanna, Nunzio and their early life in Scylla before they come to New York in search of a better life. Among the details strewn like jewels on the moving surface of a dark past that includes death, change, hope and the immigrant experience, Giovanna’s tale of courage and strength provides the doorway into a raw and atmospheric world in Elizabeth Street.
Fabiano writes with power and imagination, imparting a touching and visceral humanity to the Italian immigrant experience that transcends time and space in a riveting tale full of touching moments and gritty details. Elizabeth Street is the essence of the Chinese curse: living in interesting times. I was captivated and horrified and astounded sitting in the front seat of Fabiano’s roller coaster of dreams and drama.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell